Whitney Kenter, CEO and founder of Glowe Connective, discusses the failures and successes of her personal life and professional career. Her career consulting with businesses to prioritize human energy to overcome challenges within a company has given her insight into following a career path that brings you light or makes you “Glowe.” Whitney shares some of the risks she has taken that have helped her continue to thrive in her professional career and help her excel with her new business.

Brett Gilliland: Success. I’m your host, Brett Gilliland, and today I’ve got Whitney Kenter in the office with me. Whitney, how you doing? 

Whitney Kenter: I’m doing great…

Brett Gilliland: Awesome…

Whitney Kenter: …thanks for having me.

Brett Gilliland: Well, it’s good to have you. It’s uh, it’s exciting. I got introduced to you from, uh, Kristen. Kristen said great things about you at a, uh, at a lunch the other day and I said, you know what? I gotta, I gotta meet her. And, uh, reached out to you on LinkedIn and not even a week later, here we are. So…

Whitney Kenter: …that’s right. 

Brett Gilliland: It’s been awesome. Um, well, you are the founder of Glowe Connective. And, uh, you’ve had an unbelievable career and been in the finance industry and now doing this thing with Glowe, and I can’t wait to dive into that.

But if you can, Whitney, just maybe give us a little lay of the land on what’s made you the woman you are today. 

Whitney Kenter: Oh my gosh, that seems like a very loaded question. , I’ll try to be brief. Um, I think when I think about my life, I feel like it’s been this very non-linear, but very synchronistic path. When I, you know, it’s easy to look back and say, oh, that was clearly the time to do this change or whatever.

But from a career perspective, I feel like even though I’ve been in finance, accounting, wealth management, all of these very quantitative driven fields. My interest the entire time has always been on the humans, and their behaviors and how they make decisions and what they’re concerned about. And even in my very early career days, I’d be, as a tax professional at KPMG I’d be sitting with these CEOs and we’d be talking about, you know, after they do this big transaction, what are they gonna do?

How’s this gonna impact their family? And I was in my twenties having these very deep conversations. You know, so somehow, gravitating back towards the things that, ironically in college, I really wanted to study psychology and marketing. And my dad was like, you will never get a job with those two degrees, so you have to get an accounting now.

Brett Gilliland: Dad, I started a company with it. 

Whitney Kenter: Right, exactly. And so it’s just so ironic because every, every step of my journey, I was gravitating right back to either psychology or brand and marketing, which is fascinating. 

Brett Gilliland: Well, I think, I mean, I was joked that we’re part-time psychologists, even in the wealth management space, right.

I, I was like, I got a box of Kleenex in there. Just because the conversations that happen, man, they get deep and they’re just, you know, it’s, it’s way more important the, the, the things in life they want to go do versus just like you said, the quantitative stuff. Right? Yeah. It’s, it’s there. So, um, what, what are some of the risks you took in life?

Um, you know from, you know, obviously starting a company, leaving a great career, all those things, but what are some of the risks when you look back on your career, are you happy that you took? 

Whitney Kenter: I think the first risk that I took was at KPMG when, um, you know, I was in auditing for two weeks and realized that that was not for me.

Brett Gilliland: Yeah. 

Whitney Kenter: And so going straight to my boss literally two weeks into it and saying, I really don’t think I’m in the right spot. That was a big risk, because you’re the new kid, you know, you’re part of a huge class and they’re weeding you out, and I took a big risk in saying, Hey, but I really think this is not for me.

So they ended up putting me in this financial planning group, which was a division of the tax department, and then not even a year later after that, was introduced to the folks at headquarters that were kind of in charge of this whole group, and they were saying, we wanna expand it. We wanna have somebody come up and help us with the marketing and how do we expand this?

And I raised my hand and they, they looked at me and laughed. They said, you’ve been here for two years, or not even two years? This is usually for seniors or managers or whatever. And I just kept pushing. I was like, but I really…

Brett Gilliland: You asked the question, right? 

Whitney Kenter: …yeah. And so I think those were two, very in close proximity to one another, big risks that I took. 

Brett Gilliland: And did you get that? 

Whitney Kenter: I, did. I got it. 

Brett Gilliland: Oh, that’s amazing. 

Whitney Kenter: And went to New York and lived there for a year and a half and had this amazing experience meeting all the heads of the departments across the country. 

Brett Gilliland: Wow. 

Whitney Kenter: And it was just, it was amazing. So…

Brett Gilliland: That’s awesome.

Whitney Kenter: It was a huge risk.

Brett Gilliland: Yeah. And what do you think from there? What did you learn most about that, taking that risk? Being a person that’s, you know, quote unquote not ready for it. Yeah. Uh, what did you learn most from that? 

Whitney Kenter: Um, mostly, and this is something that we talk a lot about now at Glowe, but I really felt strongly, I mean, it was like a whole body. Have to do this. I don’t just, maybe this sounds kind of cool, kind of thing. It was like, no, I need to go, I want to, you know, I want to get out of here and go experience this. I never lived anywhere outside of Kansas or St. Louis. And so I was like, okay, this is a big move for me and I’ve never lived on the East coast, let alone in New York.

And, um, but it just, it just felt right and I didn’t let any of the extra noise or the, you know, even my own mind probably at the time, justifying this makes no sense financially. This makes no sense. You know, there’s probably a lot of reasons where I could have said, yeah, you’re right. That’s, I should keep on the safe path of continuing to, you know, move forward in my career in a linear way.

Brett Gilliland: Yeah. I, I think sometimes the risks are, uh, like you just said, the financial may not be the smartest thing. Right. Things we can walk away from, and I, it makes me think of when I started Visionary, my business partner, Tim Hammett and I, it’s, you know, we made this step, right. We were both doing very well in our careers. My wife was seven months pregnant, uh, eight months pregnant by the time we started. Um, you know, like with our fourth child, we just built a new home and she’s like, is this the right decision? And I’m like, I don’t know. She’s like, is this the best time? I’m like, no, it’s a terrible time. Right. But I think to your point is like you always knew in your core kind of what you wanted to go do.

Right? And I think sometimes it’s just taking that leap, a calculated leap, right? Knowing what you’re getting into and planning and all the stuff that goes. But sometimes just doing it and kind of building it as you go. Would you agree with that? 

Whitney Kenter: Oh yeah, absolutely. We talk about it all the time with people is that, you know, if, if something feels like a full body, yes.

 If you just feel it, even if on paper it doesn’t make sense necessarily. Yeah. Or whatever. But if you just feel it, it’s usually the right answer. Cuz your body knows. Your heart, your gut know way more than your mind on what’s right for you, so.

Brett Gilliland: I agree with that. And I think that’s, for me, that’s what I felt was this, it was right.

Like it just, I mean, I guess if you put it on paper, people, like, you’re doing what? Right. Like, you’re just gonna go out and start your own RIA and do, it’s like, yeah. Yeah. But like, it was like burn the bridges. We’re never going back. It’s like exactly’s, this is what we’re doing. And I think, again, having the plan.

So, um, let’s go and talk about what Glowe Connective is. This is a company you started a number of years ago and what, three, three years ago did you say? You just told me this.

Whitney Kenter: Almost three years. 

Brett Gilliland: Yeah. Three years ago almost. And so what are you doing exactly and how are you helping impact the world? 

Whitney Kenter: And talk about a risk.

Everyone thought I was crazy in 2020 going out. They’re like, what are you doing? We’re still at home and you’re start this new company. 

Brett Gilliland: Great timing…

Whitney Kenter: Kind of leaving at the height of, uh, of your career and what you built. So, um, no. So Glow is a, a company that we’re all about transformation, whether it’s personal or business.

So we talk a lot about how there’s so many things that are happening in our world right now that are almost forcing the hand of people to rethink systems, to rethink how we do things, to rethink, um, mostly the human side of our businesses. And I just became really passionate about that. You know, businesses are going through a lot.

Even pre covid, post covid, um, and nothing to do with covid. There’s a lot of changes that were happening, and so I wanted to do things differently from the standpoint of, yes, we need to focus on vision and strategy and processes, but it’s the people part that makes or breaks the business. Right? Yeah. And so, so many of the complaints, I guess, that business leaders were having was, you know, people’s motivation, people not wanting to work, um, which I don’t subscribe to. Right. Um, how they work when they work, all these different things and, but the people are the lifeblood of your company. Yeah. If you don’t have people, you know, you’re not gonna have a company for very long.

And so, and I, I think it’s this return to, you can’t just force your way to results. We really need to take a step back. And so, you know, yes we are consultants and coaches, but we do it in a very vulnerable way. We get in there with them, we the, on the consulting side, I didn’t wanna be the kind of consultancy that, you know, we come in for the deep dive in the analysis and then we leave them with a deliverable that we hope they implement.

And that’s not the kind of, that’s not where the transformation comes because, and I was just visiting with a CEO yesterday, I said, the difference is you have all these things that you wanna do. You already have a fully loaded executive team. Right? And so adding a huge organizational change management process to your load is big.

And that’s too much for any one person. Cuz they already have their day jobs, so to speak. And so we wanna come in and support the, the system change that can last well after we’re gone. But it takes so much more attention and it takes someone kind of holding that. I mean, we don’t know more about their business than they do, but we’re really great at asking good questions and listening, and then we always talk about, kind of mirroring back to them what we’ve heard and say, is this right?

Brett Gilliland: Yeah, yeah. Oh…

Whitney Kenter: this might be a little different than what we heard in the, you know, in the brand book or you know, something like that. Because we’re not doing it for marketing purposes. We’re doing it for how do we tap into the real soul of the company and then make that shine as bright as possible, or Glowe.

Brett Gilliland: And I assume that the, the handholding that’s there too, it’s not just like, Hey, here’s your plan and good luck. We’ll see you later. I mean, there’s that accountability, there’s the coaching, it’s all the stuff that goes with it that I know for me, I’ve worked with a business coach for years. Yeah. It’s the questions and, and I’ve coined this thing ADT is ask, don’t tell.

Whitney Kenter: Yes. Right. So if you ask me a question and then I verbally say it, right. It’s, it’s, maybe it’s the gospel because I’ve said it. Right. Right. Versus if you’re telling me, I think assume that’s part of the strategy as well too, through those asking great questions. 

Exactly. Well, and I think too, what we’ve found is, there’s a lot of things that don’t get said. You know, maybe there’s a plan already in place and you know, you might have something rattling around in your head. Like, no, I really feel like we need to do this other thing, but I don’t wanna change the course. Yeah. Or I don’t wanna say it. Or maybe someone in the organization has some really good feedback and thoughts about, you know, a disconnect that might be happening, but they don’t say it.

You know, it’s the things that don’t get that really create those blocks on the true potential of the company. And then also I feel like this, you know, we’ve got titles in job descriptions versus actual roles in what happens in the roles. And so we wanna match people’s real innate gifts, superpowers, what they’re really, really good at versus what they can do.

Because that’s what energizes them and that’s what creates that glow effect. If you’re doing, if you’re doing something more often than not that really does light you up and that you really enjoy, chances are you’re, you’re going to not be burnt out. And that is really important from a productivity standpoint.

And also just the contribution to the company. If you’re lit up and doing what you do, it’s, there’s a contagion effect to that. 

Brett Gilliland: Yeah. So do you find though, that it’s hard because, I mean, it’d be great right, if you just said, here’s an unlimited budget, I can go out and hire this person to do what they’re uniquely qualified to do.

And I’ve got, you know, an extra 15 people running around, that would be awesome, right? But sometimes, so what, how do you help that small and define small however you want, but how do you help that small company get what they want with the people they want, uh, without, you know, being able to go add another million dollars in payroll or something like that, right?

Whitney Kenter: Totally. Yeah. We love constraints . And financial constraints is always part of it…

Brett Gilliland: It’s part of it. 

Whitney Kenter: Cause it’d be nice if you could just, you know, like you said, have unlimited amounts of money to do whatever you want. Um, for us, every single thing comes back to real clarity. So if, if the real vision, like not the highly curated, wordsmith one, that maybe was done several years ago, but like the true essence, and that’s what we keep saying, is it’s the soul. Like what is it that you really want? What is it that’s really amazing and unique and why you started this company? And how do we tap back into that? And if we can get really clear on that vision and that ethos, then we can always, I feel like realign people, tasks and goals, and things like that. Because I think that sometimes it’s just re-energizing to what is, and also there’s a bit of aspiration in any vision and goal probably. But it has to be grounded in reality too. And so you can’t be saying, oh yeah, we wanna do this one thing when the rest of the organization is like, we’re not doing that one thing. 

That’s not at all what we’re doing. And so we tend to, I mean, it’s kind of where we start is this radical clarity and getting, getting to that root of the, of the company. Because then a lot of answers become clear. And so by the time we get to what we call a mirror deck, where it’s basically, you know, we’re parroting back to you, Hey, is this your real vision? Is this your real ethos? And you say Yes. Well, then it becomes a decision making framework. And that decision making framework is something that you can explain to your entire senior leadership team, your management team, and everyone in the company, and their roles fit in pretty well. So it’s almost like a puzzle.

At that point because, and we can usually find, um, Resources within the company that are not being tapped into. I mean, that’s really fun when you get people to get re-energized….

Brett Gilliland: The aha moment.

Whitney Kenter: …about it. Yeah. And they’re like, oh, well what I really love to do is this. And we say, well, we need that over here, so how do we figure out doing it?

And I think there’s so much being talked about about flattening organizational structures and things like that. And so our process is very much in alignment with that because it’s kind of like taking out the fluff. And let’s just get to what do we really need in order to accomplish this goal? That’s what a business is. 

Brett Gilliland: Yeah, that’s right. There’s a lot of fluff out there.

Whitney Kenter: How they distill it down into the basics and that’s, I mean, that’s super energizing for us. 

Brett Gilliland: Yeah. Would you say too, like, and I’ll kinda be transparent here, like my, the bread of old used to say, it’s always number driven. I want to, you know, have this many more advisors or this many more assets, or blah, blah, blah, blah, all this stuff.

Right? And you’ve got it. But I don’t know if it’s, as you get older, you start to do this, or if it’s just kind of this, that, that’s always what made me tick. But it’s more of mission focus, right? Like you see these stickers here. This is a future greater than your past. So that’s our, that’s our firm’s mission.

Helping you achieve a future greater than your past, your past doesn’t necessarily mean it was bad. But we want a better future. And I think for me, it’s, it’s more I get more energy from that, uh, of working in that mission than I do. Oh, I wanna go get x more advisors added on. Or, and, and people will ask me in, in recruiting meetings, how many more advisors you wanna have?

I’m like, This may turn you off, but I, I don’t know. Right. I don’t have this number of how many people we need to have. Yeah. But I’ve got a mission that we want to go out and create and build and, and work on. Right. So when you hear me kind of walk through that, what comes to mind? Numbers versus mission.

Whitney Kenter: I think we advocate for the mission first because your purpose is the big thing. And so defining what that is or just getting clarity with a few bullet points on what that is like what will succes look like if we achieve it. I mean, we get to the numbers, but the numbers are kind of a sidebar. You know, um, and they’re important obviously, because you’ve gotta build whatever you wanna build and you’ve gotta have the numbers.

Brett Gilliland: Yeah. Gotta grow. 

Whitney Kenter: Makes sense. But I love this and I, I do think more people are, Recentering around purpose, at least the leaders who wanna work with us, right? Because I mean, if they want outside the box thinking and they wanna do things differently than they’re in conversations with Glowe. But if they wanna do it the old way and just focus on the numbers and growing for growth’s sake, chances are we’re not gonna be appealing to them.

Brett Gilliland: Yep. 

Whitney Kenter: And so I think this reversion to kind of the core or the, the real foundation is really important. And the numbers take care of themselves, I mean, I’m sure you see that in your…

Brett Gilliland: Absolutely.

Whitney Kenter: …your business. They, they just kind of magically do when you focus on the thing that really matters. And you make decisions in alignment with that. So an an unaligned decision would be, we’ve gotta hit adding 20 advisors this year. It’s like, but why? Right. That would be my first question. Why? That’s a tell what question that number is all about. 

Brett Gilliland: Sorry to interrupt, but we talk about mission and vision align too, right? Because, and values align. 

If we don’t connect on our values, it’s gonna be really hard for us to work together. And to your point, I think the more we do those three things, then it, it is, you said contagious, I think is the word you used earlier. I always say it’s like a magnet, right? Like think about your little kids’ trains. They, they either went together or they repel each other, right? And I think that’s what we can do as leaders is repel people away. And sometimes if they’re in your culture, that may be a good thing to repel them away, right? And that’s okay. 

Whitney Kenter: And I, and I think, you know, this kind of goes with the Glowe philosophy that, you know, if people are truly lit up with your purpose of your company, they’re gonna be happier, they’re gonna be more productive, they’re gonna be more, and that’s, that’s really what it’s about. You know? I mean, it’s about that before the money, and you’re reading all of these studies now with all of, you know, our terrible mental health crisis and the levels of burnout and the, you know, lack of connectivity to joy and fulfillment and all those things.

Well, we as business leaders have an obligation, I think. Because, you know, I do, I believe people do wanna work, but I think they wanna be connected. I think they wanna feel like their purpose aligns with whatever it is that they’re doing. And it doesn’t matter what role they’re filling, but they wanna feel connected to that purpose and mission.

And I think those companies are gonna be more successful overall.

Brett Gilliland: I, I think you got into my journal here and stole my, stole my goals here. Because if you look, um, it says right here, what’s that? connected goals for 2023, right? Yeah. And so I a thousand percent agree with you that, um, people need connection, right?

And I want that connected goals for 2023 to happen. So that’s kind of my word of the year. So when you said that, I was like, oh, I think she cheated and stole my, my sheet here. Um, but I think attitude. Um, but I, I, I would say, so then my question becomes, uh, what you guys are doing at Glowe is around the human being.

Right? And there’s so much stuff going on right now out there about the metaverse. Yeah. And chatGPT and you know, AI and virtual reality, all this stuff, right? Yeah. So when you hear those things in one box, you hear your human connection in another, what comes together and how do those things meet or collide?

One of the two, right? Right. 

Whitney Kenter: Well, it’s kind of interesting because it, in just, specifically, with chatGPT, we’ve talked a lot about this because, um, so much of what we do is produce content and thought provoking pieces and things like that. And I’ve had a number of people say, you know what, you can do that a lot cheaper and just plug it into chatGPT. And have it spit something out. And I said, yeah. So I mean, we’ve experimented with that to see what they come up with. And it is a remarkable thing, but I think that we still have to figure out then what do the humans need to be doing? In order, I mean, from a business perspective, in pursuit of whatever business goals and what can we leverage, but it’s, we’ve kind of been doing this already.

How do we leverage technology to do jobs. I mean, you know, this has been going on for a long time as we’ve evolved, um, through multiple cycles of our economy, you know, so I think this is just the next level of figuring out how does this impact our business? It is gonna cause some people to need to revisit, I think, their purpose.

Because some of it might be at risk, right? Some of what they do might be at risk to being taken over by a machine. But, that was the case in the early days of the industrial. I mean, so yeah, this is not, that’s true. This is not new. It’s just different. 

Brett Gilliland: It seems disingenuous though, right? Like if I read an article from Glowe and I’m like, okay, this is awesome, and Whitney put her name on it, like, I don’t wanna know really behind the scenes, you just typed in a question.

Whitney Kenter: Totally. 

Brett Gilliland: And they put out a 500, you know, word article that you quote unquote created. Right? Yeah, I think it’s true. That’s the thing I struggle with with it. 

Whitney Kenter: Yeah. I still think people will connect with things, you’re still gonna have to connect with the real . You can tell the difference. I can tell the difference between something that’s been written by chatGPT and what I’ve written. Not just because I’ve written it, but…

Brett Gilliland: Right.

Whitney Kenter: I mean, there’s a soul, there’s a…

Brett Gilliland: yeah, there’s a human connection. 

Whitney Kenter: And so, you know, I think you know the, there’s ways to use it. Probably. We haven’t figured out the right balance for that, but I know it’s top of mind for a lot of leaders on how do we do this?

And I think for a lot of people, they feel like their jobs are at risk because some of the things that they used to do, yeah. You know, might be shortened even if it’s not completely, you know, taken over by chatGPT or AI. But there’s gonna, it’s just gonna be a different role. I think,.

Brett Gilliland: I, I joked at a restaurant one time that you, you would go in and we would order this food and this little kiosk thing.

Yeah. And this person was there and I, you know, they had a good personality. You could tell. I said, but you realize you’re training me to that thing to take over your job, right? Yeah. I mean, there’s all these things, so you’re right. There are things that are a lot at risk. So yeah, we could, we could have a whole nother podcast on that.

Whitney Kenter: Oh my God. 

Brett Gilliland: But what I’d like to turn the page to is, is sometimes you, we talk, well, not sometimes a lot, we always talk about our successes, right? Yep. And, and to the extent to what you want to share is what, what failures, I think we’ve all had failures. What failures have you had? And they don’t have to be extreme, but what failures have you had that you learned a lot from that you could share now of what some of those biggest learnings were and some of those takeaways.

Whitney Kenter: Um, I think several of my failures, my biggest failures had to do with, um, I would say picking the wrong people and also not following the signs. Hmm. Like, and just trying to overcompensate or trying to um…

Brett Gilliland: Deny.

Whitney Kenter: Just deny what was really going on in service of what I really wanted to be going on. So I think that’s where kind of my, my personal transformation and my professional transformation paths, you know, finally collided was, you know, I had, I had made.

Um, some terrible, not terrible. Some interesting decisions in my personal life and my professional life that I knew that were not in service of me necessarily, but I chose to see them through anyway. Yep. And it was getting out of those, that is where I really learned like, wow, those were pretty big mistakes.

But the good thing is, is it’s actually what has made me who I am today, but also huge learnings from a Glowe perspective. Because I can identify, I can identify when people are not aligned really quickly, because I was that person for so long. And on the outside looking in, you know, or you look at my career on LinkedIn, or you look at all these things, you’re like, whoa.

You know? Right. All these achievements, all these things and inside I was a shell of myself. I was not at all, you know, healthy as I am today, and was totally misaligned. And so it took getting out of, um, you know, having a personal divorce and a professional divorce and going through both of those processes, which, you know, were not fun from a process perspective in the legal system.

 And they’re also not fun, you know, to understand what, how you contributed to, you know, staying too long and all the different things. Yeah. And so there’s just a massive amount of healing that had to go on in both sides. And I, I did my personal transformation that led to the per the professional trans.

So they, they but…

Brett Gilliland: It’s kinda the catalyst. Yeah.

Whitney Kenter: It was definitely like, whoa, I had no idea that I was sacrificing so much of myself and that I had low self-worth. And you know, I tell people that and they’re like, what are you talking about? You look at all the things that you’ve done and I said, yeah but , it was coming all from a place of extremely low self-work.

And so I was, I mean, talk about, you know, we talk about energy and, um, light and glowing, you know, my light had dimmed so much, but yet from the out, from the outside looking in, you would say, but you were super successful. Like, but at what cost? Yeah. Because I was, I just was not happy and I, and so it’s just so many things like that, that even though, yes, failures, I just feel, I love the phrase fail forward because I do feel like that really is my story.

I mean, I failed forward so many times, and even parenting. You know, talk about failures. Oh my gosh. You know, I, I was a single mom when my kids were six, five, and three trying to figure out who I was, let alone my relationship with my kids and how to raise them. And so, you know, lots of failures, for sure.

Brett Gilliland: Well I appreciate you sharing that and it definitely takes a lot of courage, right, to do that and to trust your gut. And, and uh, cuz we don’t wanna see those signs sometimes. 

Whitney Kenter: Right? Exactly. And I’ve always told people, I’m like, you know, when people will say, Man, this decision or that decision seems like a major decision.

Let’s take divorce for an example cuz that’s, it’s a major life decision. Yeah. And very, and it, it is courageous, but you have to make the decision about a million times because there’s so many times when you think well be so much easier if I waited until the kids were older, it’d be so much easier if I, I can handle this.

So maybe I’ll just stay in. I mean and so even though it makes so much sense, like in my case it made great sense because I was in a terribly abusive marriage and like it just made all the sense in the world. But yet there was all these moments, you know, when I was by myself and the kids were in bed and I was like, what am I doing?

Yeah. I don’t know how to do this alone, you know? And so you have to keep making that courageous decision moment to moment to moment. And it’s like a million yes’ over and over again that leads to that ultimate big decision to happen. So I don’t know. 

Brett Gilliland: Yeah, that’s interesting. It’s a good way to look at it. It makes me think too of the fears. I was asked this question of, I’d assume there was a lot of fears that were going through your mind and, and both those personal and professional patterns as you said. And, and so how many of the fears you put in your mind actually blew up to the magnitude you put ’em in your mind to be?

Whitney Kenter: That is fascinating, um, question because. I have looked back on that and when I let the fear rule, it ended so much worse than if I just would’ve persevered on the path that I was on. 

Brett Gilliland: So meaning, so, so, so peel that on your layer back meaning, so the fear was there.

Whitney Kenter: Yes. The fear was there and I gave into the fear.

Brett Gilliland: Okay. 

Whitney Kenter: And I just, I was like, okay, yeah, I can’t do this. You’re right. Like I, I’m gonna have to, I’m gonna have to make another choice. And, and the, the, it’s, our brains are trying to actually keep us safe. And the brain’s interpretation of what is safe is like what, you know, what we know is more safe than the unknown.

And so, and that’s where it took a lot of, I don’t know, a lot of different healing modalities and things to learn about how Okay. Fear is, is a data point. It’s, it’s my brain trying to protect me. But I need to kind of come back to myself and reali and, and assess like, do I really, am I gonna give into this?

Or am I gonna just kind of move forward anyway? And so many moments where if I would’ve not let fear reign I would be in a different place. 

Brett Gilliland: But do you think that fear reign and then it made you adjust and go a different route that maybe got you into a better spot or not? 

Whitney Kenter: Um, I think I just learned, I think it was more what I’ve said and, and I’m writing this book too about the, about transformation and my own journey on this too, but I talk about how, how building a different relationship with fear is really what re what the result was. Because I had to go through all of these very fearful moments and learn from those so that I could figure out what is my relationship. And so now it’s almost kind of this, okay, when if fear comes up, it’s like, what?

What do I need to be paying attention to?

Brett Gilliland: What’s this telling me? Right. 

Whitney Kenter: What am I missing? Yeah. What, what data can I learn from this so that I can then kind of come back to center and make a decision that’s not fear-based? Like use the fear as a data point and then move forward kind of from a place of calm. You know? 

Brett Gilliland: So I’ve heard you say the words, calm and energy, and come back to center, which I assume means that we probably practice either yoga or meditation or something like that. So, uh, I’m very transparent on here that, that, that, uh, meditation changed my life from a standpoint of dealing with, uh, anxiety as a kid, as an adult, as a professional, and having to, you know, go speak on a stage somewhere.

And I would get sick in the bathroom. You know, at the Four Seasons in St. Louis before you’d go on stage, whatever, right. And, but now I’ve had to take, to your point earlier, fear, um, I’ve had to take my anxiety and make it a friend. Yes. I have conversations with my anxiety. You know, a fair amount.

So yeah. When you hear me say, share my vulnerabilities there, what comes to mind for you and, and what are the, the quote unquote tools that you have in your toolbox to help you through either fear or anxiety? 

Whitney Kenter: Well, first of all, I love that and I love that you’re so transparent with your audience about that, because I do think there’s a lot. of learning to be had and, and using some of these practices. Whatever it is. Breath work, meditation, yoga. Um, part of my, the, one of the major parts of my journey, uh, to back to myself really was starting yoga and I started for the pure workout part of it. I didn’t know anything about it, I didn’t know what downward dog was.

Like, I knew nothing. And I, I went because I was really drawn to the teacher. And I was drawn to the message and I was drawn to when they would be educating you on, you know, what happens on your mat and how that mirrors what goes on off the mat in your life and recognizing different patterns about yourself.

And it was this completely, um, I don’t know, journey of self-awareness of going, oh my gosh, I do do that. I do leave Shavasana because I think I don’t have two minutes to let, to sit there. Or, you know, and kind of the same with meditation. You think, you know, early on as I was starting meditation, I was like, I can’t stop my brain.

There’s no way I got too many things…

Brett Gilliland: That’s tough.

Whitney Kenter: And it’s hard. That’s, I guess, why they call it a practice, right? Because it, you know, you, you aren’t an expert at it. At least I wasn’t. Until many, many years doing it, and I’m still not an expert, but there’s so much to learn from that. And I think that, you know, we’ve been taught certain things from an academic or society or whatever, but nowhere in there, you know, have they said, learn about yourself, recognize your own patterns, recognize how you react or respond to things.

And so there’s so much richness in learning about ourselves and then therefore how we interact with others , which, um, I think we could all learn from. So I love talking to other people that it doesn’t seem like that woowoo stuff, right? That, you know, people in California or, you know, other places talk about. Um, because I just think that it’s this incredible opportunity for us to learn about ourselves.

 And, and especially if we can get to the place to realize that we are all connected, all of our actions impact each other. And I think that’s such a powerful force. , um, that we could be tapping into, especially right now, I think it would bring everybody a lot more joy and hopefully reduce some conflicts that exist out there.

Brett Gilliland: Yes. I, I agree. And it’s funny, I, I share that usually at the end of my talk, my anxiety journey. And it’s funny cuz you know, when you’re up there on stage or you’re talking, people are like, to your point earlier, like what you were what? Yeah. Like you see your resume. Well, it’s funny because then usually after every time you speak there’s, you know, 3, 5, 10 people come to me.

He is like, oh my god, of all the stuff you shared, thank you for sharing that. You know? And, and, I think we do have to be vulnerable and transparent and share those things out there, but it’s, for me, the breathing and the meditation part helped me. Like even if I’m in a big meeting or I’m something and I’m getting a little anxious or just because you can’t really explain why it comes in, it just does.

As how you can breathe yourself through that. So for people that are listening, there’s a great, um, uh, new, uh, documentary on Netflix. I dunno if you’ve seen it or not, but it’s called. Well, it’s by Headspace. You’ve heard the app? Oh yeah. Headspace. So that’s where I actually started my journey with meditation was through Headspace.

And now Andy Andy Puddicombe is on a documentary called Meditation or How to Learn Meditation, something like that. You’ll find it on there. It’s phenomenal for people are listening. Go check it out. So, um, if I follow you around Whitney, and I said, okay, every day I’m gonna see some things that happen.

What are, what are the no miss items that I’m seeing consistently show up in your life? 

Whitney Kenter: Um, for sure getting up and working out. Um…

Brett Gilliland: What time do you get up? 

Whitney Kenter: Around 5:15. 

Brett Gilliland: Okay.

Whitney Kenter: It’s been kind of a habit for a while now, and I just am so much more clear if I, whether it’s a run or yoga, whatever, doesn’t matter. I just, I notice a material difference if I don’t. 

Brett Gilliland: It keeps your body moving.

Whitney Kenter: Yeah. And even if it’s 30 minutes, if that’s all I have that day or something like that. 

Brett Gilliland: And if I can interrupt, you said material difference. So I mean that, that’s a big word, right? Yes. Like you’re, you’re, you see it big time in your life.

Whitney Kenter: Yes. Yeah. And now it’s so interesting because I used to have to cram in the workout in order to do all the things in the morning. And I’ve given myself so much more grace because my most creative time of day is in the morning. And so I can’t. I can’t not go on a run and get some huge idea or make some connection or solve something that has been rattling.

And I don’t even do it intentionally, but running is very meditative for me. So that action while I’m, you know, just stepping on the pavement, it actually creates a meditative environment for me. Um, and so I get a lot of, I get a lot of things for our content or our clients or whatever when I run.

And so it’s almost this, if I tell myself, oh, it’s too cold out, I’m not gonna go on my run today. 

Brett Gilliland: Easy to do.

Whitney Kenter: I know. Oh, it’s so easy, . Um, I automatically know my answer needs to be, I’m going to feel so much better if I just do that. And again, even if I only have a short amount of time. So that’s something I don’t sacrifice.

And even, even when I, um, was a new single mom, I had this Sunday morning yoga practice that I never missed. Even if I had my kids, even if, whatever was going on. I had to make this practice work because it was both the teacher and the community. That was kind of my church, so to speak. It was, and so, um, so there’s been different, I guess, examples of that over time than, you know, some kind of either yoga or running that I just don’t miss. But for sure, that’s the one thing that I…

Brett Gilliland: What else? Is there anything else that comes to mind?

Whitney Kenter: Um, I think now I am doing a better job of not starting my days until after nine, like giving myself that easier morning, so that I can get either, I typically journal every day. Um, that’s usually just some kind of release. 

Brett Gilliland: You probably agree considering you can see three journals sitting around my desk, right? 

Whitney Kenter: Yeah, exactly. I have different ones for different things.

Brett Gilliland: I have to do a shameless plug. This, I just created this, this is, uh, I just is on Amazon. This is like 20 years of my life coming together into, uh, one journal that now can be…

Whitney Kenter: Oh amazing. 

Brett Gilliland: …on Amazon. So I’m pretty pumped about that. So I’m not an author like you’re writing a book, but I’m, at least I’m a, I’m a ‘jauthor’, a journal author, or something. So yeah…

Whitney Kenter: Journaling is super powerful. 

Brett Gilliland: So what do you do during your journaling? How do you do it? 

Whitney Kenter: Um, I usually just start with writing whatever is in my head because I wake up and I, I, I think I usually have something on my mind from a dream or , whatever. And so it’s nice to just kind of get it out. Um, and so I’ll just kind of, I don’t have a purpose to my journaling. Unless there’s something…

Brett Gilliland: Just writing sentences in paragraph form kind of.

Whitney Kenter: Sometimes I’ll draw something or I’m a very visual person. I like to draw things and so, um, uh, and sometimes, I mean, it’s kind of fascinating. I have stacks of journals too from over the years, and it is interesting to kind of randomly flip back through. And how many common themes, especially around..

Brett Gilliland: Still there.

Whitney Kenter: Are still there! And sometimes it’s nice to be able to tap back into that and say, oh, this is not a new idea. You had this thought in 2018. 

Brett Gilliland: I love it. I love it. So how do you, now, are you, are you good or not good at staying in the moment, would you say? Kinda enjoying that journey and staying in the moment? 

Whitney Kenter: I think it’s, um, I think I’m super aware of presence. I, I try to, I think especially now, I’ve got one in college and two on the brink of college. I feel like that’s another reminder. 

Brett Gilliland: It is, isn’t it? Yeah.

Whitney Kenter: Presence, you know? And so I think, I think I try to be mindful. I don’t, I’m definitely not perfect with it at all, but what is perfect. And so, um, but I, I try to be really mindful, like if with, if I’m with a client, I’m with them.

I’m not doing anything else. And because usually, you know, we’re there to hold that space and, and provide that safe space for us to be vulnerable and, you know, solve things differently. And so if I’m distracted by my phone, then I’m not really doing what we preach. So, and also trying to help model that for these leaders who are like, oh, I’ve got this device and this iPad and this thing open. It’s like, no. 

Brett Gilliland: Yeah, let’s shut her down. 

Whitney Kenter: We need to shut it all down. 

Brett Gilliland: A piece of paper and an ink pen. 

Whitney Kenter: Right? Exactly. Old school. 

Brett Gilliland: Is there anything that you do in your day? Uh, assume there is. It’s why I’m asking the question, but there’s just no recollection of time. Like you, you have no idea. Cause some people are like, Is it noon yet so I can go to lunch? Is it five o’clock yet, so I can go home? I, I assume you’re like me, like that doesn’t really happen. You can just wake up like, oh wow, it’s that certain time. What is it that you’re doing where you have no idea what’s, what time even is?

Whitney Kenter: Um, two things probably. One would be if I get some kind of ping or spark of inspiration and I just start writing about it. I don’t know if I’m writing for five minutes 30 minutes. It just kind of all just starts going, and then I look up and whatever time has passed, but it just feels like I go into some kind of vortex and . It’s just like I’m so focused, hyper-focused. Um, that, and I would say when I’m in, I guess I’ll loosely call this creation mode.

Um, if I’m trying to solve something and I’m just kind of really deep in thought and I turn everything off and I kind of probably just look like I’m sitting and staring at a wall, but my mind…

Brett Gilliland: Which is important to do by the way.

Whitney Kenter: …is racing. Yeah. And so, and I did that yesterday actually. And it was something that I hadn’t quite figured out yet, and it was really bothering me.

And I knew that it was something that I needed to get solved this week. And so, um, some space opened up on my calendar serendipitously, and I was alone in my office and I thought, all right, well, I don’t really know, and I have a huge whiteboard paint on my one wall in my office. And so I just sat there and it was, it was blank.

And I sat there and I just thought, okay, I’m gonna grab a marker when it’s time, but I’m gonna wait and see what comes up and it was great. And I think about an hour and a half went by and it felt like nothing. 

Brett Gilliland: It’s amazing. 

Whitney Kenter: So yeah.

Brett Gilliland: You can see my dry erase boards are my windows here. 

Whitney Kenter: I love that. I love that. 

Brett Gilliland: I don’t have much wall space, but um, but it’s funny you say that because I’m a big, big believer in telling people and, and trying to coach people to do this, but most don’t because they’re quote unquote busy. Right. And , I call it strategic think time. And so you see this black journal, there’s all those over there that are full. And so. Every Wednesday for an hour and a half, I have on my calendar. It’s just on repeat. And it’s been for probably, gosh, 15 years, and it’s the best hour and a half time. And most people, and I’ve done this before, is you will, you’ll schedule over it.

Right? Right. Schedule over. But I think that time is, is critically important for us as leaders and as a parent, as a, as a spouse, whatever. Uh, to spend time thinking. And so, um, just wanna throw that out there. But, one of the final questions I have for you, I, I, I like this cuz they usually learn some fun things about people, but is if I stole your cell phone, besides, like if it’s email or Instagram or LinkedIn, whatever, is there anything on your phone that you would be like, oh my gosh, I hope he doesn’t delete that because I really, really use this to impact your life, impact others’ lives or just something you love to do?

Whitney Kenter: Probably my notes app. Um, that’s where. I keep joking that my run times get slower and slower because I’m so often stopping to write something really fast. Or I get an idea about something and I have, I don’t even know how many notes at this point where it’s not even a fully baked, cohesive, piece or anything, but it’s, it’s the small reminder something and, and I’ve tried, oh, I’ll remember later.

I’ll remember when I get home and I never do. Yeah. And so now I just stop in my track. So if I lost my notes app, that would be…

Brett Gilliland: Would not be good.

Whitney Kenter: …be devastating. I mean, it would just be, I mean, I would recreate it, I’m sure, but it would just be Wow. Cuz sometimes if I’m flipping back through. To, you know, we’ve got a weekly new newsletter that I put out every week.

Sometimes I’m looking back on some of those little sparks of inspiration to say, oh, is that something that I wanna do? So, yeah, that would probably end my calendar. That’s probably because everything I I…

Brett Gilliland: You run your life by your calendar. Yeah. 

Whitney Kenter: Yes. I basically take all that extra stuff outta my brain so I don’t have to remember it, and I just put it all on my calendar, so that one would be really tough to recreate. 

Brett Gilliland: Yes, yes. Well, Whitney, it’s been awesome having you on the Circuit of success. Where can our listeners find more of Glowe and find more and follow you? 

Whitney Kenter: Yeah, so we’re on LinkedIn Glowe Connective. We’re, uh, our website is www dot glow with an e, g l o w e and it’s connective.com. (gloweconnective.com)

Um, and I would love to connect with your listeners on LinkedIn personally as well. And we’re on Instagram too. LinkedIn primarily. 

Brett Gilliland: Well, obviously you answer your own stuff cuz you’re sitting here today. Like, you know, less than a week since we sent the message, so it’s been awesome. But it’s been so great having you and thanks for sharing your story and uh, it’s very, very inspiring.

So thanks for all you’re doing. 

Whitney Kenter: Awesome. Thank you.